Turkey season for Salt River Outfitters was successful this year both in Kentucky and Kansas. The year was also a reminder to me that some things will always be out of the control of the hunter. What separates good hunters from the great is how adequately unforeseen setbacks are met. From weather conditions, a wide variance of bird behavior, to more bizarre occurrences, this year won’t soon be forgotten.
My most memorable moment of the turkey season turned out to be quite an ordeal. I was with several outdoor writers in the field. We were successfully calling in two quality birds that were gobbling their heads off. At that moment, a massive tree (over a hundred feet tall) came crashing down between us and the gobblers. It scared the heck out of us and the gobblers. The craziest thing is that it was a beautiful sunny day with no wind!
Another noteworthy occurrence in this year’s turkey hunt was that Salt River Outfitters saw a man come all the way from Hamburg, Germany to hunt. It was rewarding to see him succeed and enjoy his time. Salt River Outfitters looks forward to continually drawing interest in the US and around the world. This was the eighth year for turkey hunting at the Kentucky location and the first year in Kansas.
Kentucky and Kansas each were unique in their own way this year. In Kentucky, the birds constantly gobbled in the roost and for the first few hours on the ground. They were shy around decoys tending to skirt around the edges. Typically, when birds are gobbling they are relatively easy to harvest. That wasn’t the case this year for most of the birds. Most wouldn’t come in but some were cooperative. In all, 24 birds were taken at the Kentucky location. A likely reason for the added difficulty was that the breeding season was earlier than normal this year. As the season went on, hunting got increasingly better.
Things sure were different in Kansas in comparison. Although sunny, mostly desirable and sometimes cold weather prevailed in Kentucky, it rained and was windy much of the time in Kansas. Things were as opposite in weather patterns in both states as they were regarding turkey behavior. In Kansas, the birds were completely quiet while roosting and on the ground. Despite this, they were able to be drawn in to the decoys. The tricky thing wasn’t whether they would come in, thankfully. Because they were quiet, the challenge was knowing where they would show up and when. Hunters were not disappointed. All met their bag limits despite the added challenge of weather and the silent treatment.
It’s estimated that there are presently 225,000 turkeys in Kentucky. Kentucky’s natural resource program requires that hunters report their harvests. This is a valuable tool in managing resources, gauging hunter interest and planning for successful turkey hunting for generations to come. 31,047 birds were taken this year in total. Kentucky even breaks down the turkey harvests by county. Here are the Kentucky counties Salt River Outfitters hunts in and the total number of birds taken for each this year.
- Anderson (250)
- Nelson (333)
- Washington (283)
- Shelby (318)
Kansas is happy to report healthy numbers of wild turkeys in most of the state. After near extirpation by the 1950s, numbers have steadily increased over the years up until present. Thanks to many years of conservation efforts, Kansas is now considered one of the best states in the country to hunt turkeys. It’s estimated that there are roughly 300,000 turkeys statewide now. 31,329 birds were harvested in 2013.
The most rewarding aspect of what I do is to see the thrill and joy of my hunters after a successful hunt. Unlike deer hunting where we drop hunters off at a tree, I’m with turkey hunters all the way. I enjoy seeing how they react to harvesting a bird. Some are all smiles, others are calm with little emotion, while still others get the shakes to the point that they hardly can stand up. It really is great to be a part of something like that.
We’re looking forward to a new season and hoping for less obstacles in 2017 even though 2016 was a great season. With fantastic turkey populations holding steady in both states and localities, there are sure to be plenty of new adventures unfolding for many years to come. We want to extend a special thank you to all of our customers who participated in hunts this year. We look forward to seeing you next year and to meeting some new faces as well!
– George Cummins, Salt River Outfitters